You have worked for seven companies in your career history and your existing resume is overly redundant about the things you did in each position. This is not good for the employer to read. Chances are, like most people, the traditional style of doing a resume in the Chronologic form is what you have. My intent is to give you a completely different option.
Let’s just say that you have been job hopping for several years and taken positions in office administration, retail, sales, and restaurant/food services, and now you want to apply for this great paying position as a human resource generalist.
That is quite a different field from the rest of the positions you have had…or is it?
Yes and no, is the answer to that question. The field is different but the skills and abilities you have gained with all of your previous jobs will be your best asset and selling point.
Your goal is to sell those skills and abilities to your future employer…but how?
It seems that you always did the same type of things and every job on your resume has a breakdown of the same basic information-mainly customer service because most of those positions were service based industries. So how do you try and word it differently but keep it in a chronological order? Here’s a clue…
Stop using the Chronological format!!
Oh how I hate that format. While the chronological format is good for someone with a limited work history, it isn’t appealing for someone who has worked in several capacities and has a lot of skills and experience. Let me convince you why to use a skill-based format.
The chronological format is boring, it repeats the same information again and again, and it doesn’t give the employer enough information about the transferable skills or multiple abilities you are cross-trained for. It also shows all of the gaps in employment when you were between jobs. It also takes up excessive page space and really if you want to be effective, keeping your resume to one page is the smart thing to do. Unless of course you are a Rocket Scientist gone Neurosurgeon, in which case you will need to have at least three pages 😉
The skill-based resume is a completely different way of showcasing your accomplishments and sets the stage for a phone call from an interested employer. This type of resume stops the confusing process of having to tailor your resume or develop more than one resume for every position you apply for because it is based on your skills, rather than your previous work history. Also, rather than telling an employer what month and year you held all of your previous positions, you can just indicate your year(s) of employment or show that it was 2 years or that it was 8 months; thereby hiding those gaps in your employment history. (You may end up explaining gaps in your employment at the interview but at least it doesn’t show up on your resume!)
“One resume for every position that I want to apply for? No way, that’s just not possible!” you tell me, and my response, “Yes way! It is very possible and more than just possible, it absolutely works!” (That’s not to say you won’t fine tune it for various positions, but you most certainly won’t be rewriting it every time you apply for job.) So, let’s explore the Five Key Elements of your next resume.
Key Element 1-Contact Information
This information is crucial to your success. You need to include your first and last name, email address, quadrant, city and postal code, and area code with phone number(s). I don’t recommend adding your home address, as often times you will be posting your resume online to various job boards, as well as sending it out to numerous email addresses, and you never know who may end up getting it. The home address is used for the employer application, as most employers want you to fill out an application upon hire. It is just a safety precaution.
Tips for Setting up your Contact Information
Start by using left justify for your name and then bold your name, use Arial Narrow font, size 18-22 (You can adjust this size to fit your preferences) and use small caps for visual appeal. Next, add a border or line just under your name to separate it from the rest of your contact information.
Next, add your contact information including: Email, quadrant, city, province, postal code and phone number(s). Also, if you have a home and cell phone number you can use both or just one, it is really up to you and if you don’t have a quadrant, your city, province and postal code are just fine. This information should be right justified with Arial Narrow font, size 11 and not bold.
See the example below for best results…
(notice the spaces between information…after the email address there are 5 spaces, after the province there are 3 spaces and then the postal code, after the postal code there are 5 spaces and then the cell number, and after the cell number there are 5 spaces and then the home number.)
Key Element 2- Summary of Qualifications
Do you start with a summary or objective? I personally don’t like or use objective statements because from an employer standpoint, they don’t care what you want. The employer has a position to fill and wants to find the right person for that position based on their skills, not based on a statement that says, “Obtain a full time position in a small to mid-size organization where I can contribute over 15 years of customer service and sales experience, and gain more industry experience.” That’s nice and all, but reading that tells the employer that you will not meet the criteria they are looking for if you want to gain experience, which will cause them to move on to the next resume. However, one way that an objective statement may come in handy, is if you are switching careers or applying for an entry-level position, which you have no prior, or very little experience in. In Lieu of an objective statement I will sometimes include the position title found on the job description. I center the job title under the contact information and use Arial Narrow font size 18 (same size as your name) and use the small caps option. Please see the example below…
Just under the job title from the job description is where the “Summary of Qualifications” or sometimes called “Highlights of Qualifications” should go. This summary is basically a series of bulleted statements regarding your soft/transferrable skills, which outline your strengths. These statements describe some character values about your professionalism, problem solving, organizational and communication skills, ability to work in teams and meet deadlines.
When putting your summary statements together, you need to use facts about your skills and be able to explain them later in your descriptions of skills. The overall message you want to give the employer with the summary is that you have the right combination of traits, and here’s a hint…stay away from using “I” and “me” statements and long paragraphs about yourself. Bullet points work well for this. Again, I used Arial Narrow font, size 11, bold and small caps for the headline. As you see from the provided example, I have also encased the headline within a table to make it stand out. Just under the headline I added the bullet points of information. Again, using Arial Narrow font, size 11 without bold or small caps features.
Notice that these are very brief descriptions and I didn’t use periods behind them. You are not writing a book, but rather giving an overview of your strengths, and periods are only necessary for writing complete sentences. I try to give only the facts, and avoid explanations with the summary because when the descriptions of skills are added, they should explain the summary statements.
Key Element 3-Education
The education can be put in one of two places on your resume depending on how much emphasis it has to what you are applying for. If you have a High School Diploma or GED with no college, use the education at the end of your resume. If you took some college/university courses, are attending college/university currently, or have recently completed university with a degree, you may consider providing your education information just under your summary statements. Also, if you have finished or are still in college/university, don’t include the high school information as it becomes rather obvious that you completed high school, if you have a college degree or are currently attending college/university.
Another good piece of educational information to include is any certifications or licenses you obtained, what area of study they were for, and what year you obtained them, as well as any practicum experience you have. Be sure to include the name of the institution, the city and province of the institution, the year in which you completed the course, practicum or program, and what degree you obtained i.e.; Diploma, Bachelor, Masters, Certificate, Designation…If you did not complete the program or you are currently attending use the word “Coursework.”
If you have a lot of education, certificates and practicum experiences, providing your education information at the end of the resume is recommended. Please keep in mind, that while your education is very important, you don’t want to over do it on the information, as it could reflect that you are over qualified, or that you can’t make a decision as to what program to study, as you changed your major several times and never earned a degree. Most employers are not looking for members of Mensa, they just want to know you are qualified to do the job.
As seen in the example below, the headline is encased in a table and Arial Narrow font, size 11 and bold in small caps are used. Arial Narrow font, size 11 and bold for the years of employment, program and acquired degree was used. Directly under the program information is the name of the institution, the city and province it’s located in. Again, use Arial Narrow Font, size 11 but without the bold feature.
Key Element 4-Skills & Experience
So how do you lay it all out? This is fairly simple; you want to focus on your strengths in each of the positions/industries you were employed in and give five brief descriptions of your skills. For example, Office Administration & Reception could be used as one heading with five bulleted descriptions. The next heading can also be a mixed topic because many of the skills you have applies to both Retail Sales & Customer Service, and finally Restaurant & Food Service could be your last heading. Okay, you have your headings now for the descriptions…
“I have far more than five descriptions that define what I have done for these categories, so now what?”
Again, this is a simple process, take the best skills from your experience and the best abilities you have and combine them for a complete description. Remember, within the descriptions you are providing, you need to relate them back to your summary statement to tie everything together. You may be somewhat confused by this so let me say one simple thing…
Google is your friend
If you can’t figure out how to word something go to Google and look up job descriptions of previous positions you held, this will save you a lot of time and headaches, as well as give detailed information about positions you worked in but were not sure how to explain.
Just make sure the information you are providing is really based on your skill set and not just copied to get the resume done. These are your qualifications, so please be certain you can back them up before you add them to your resume. Please see the example below for format…
Key Element 5-Employment History
This one is so simple. The only information you need about previous employers is years of employment, your job title, the company name, the city and province they are located in. In the example below, I show options for either using the years or length of time you were employed… (Please only use one of these methods on your resume, as mixing them together doesn’t look professional)
It all sounds like a lot of information but when you put it all together, the end result is a single page of qualifications, skills, and experience, which your next employer is chomping at the bit to have. A seemingly flawless job catcher with a “Five Star” rating; Good Luck and Go Get ‘em!